Monday, 03 August 2015

A New Week

By Henry Lowenstern

On Monday morn, the week commences,
as we trade past for future tenses,
and, full of hope,
we learn to cope,
while aiming for the fences.


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Friday, 31 July 2015

The Amazing World of Botany

By Trudi Kappel

Botanyparis tomatoKappel

Life under tough conditions: This small tomato plant grew in a narrow crack between the sidewalk and a building in Paris. It is unlikely that anybody planted the seed and equally unlikely that the plant bore fruit. But in that tiny seed was the DNA instruction to sprout and grow, so it did.

Survival: More than 30 years ago, my life companion and I moved south. We bought houses in our new state. My house is located in a small forest with many trees. His lot featured more kudzu (what did two Yankees know about kudzu?) than trees.

One spring, soon after our move, I discovered a two-foot high oak tree growing amid my foundation bushes. Since I could not allow it to grow there, I offered to transplant it to my friend’s yard. My offer was accepted.

I started to dig – very, very carefully. I hoped to dig out much of the deep center root so as to give the tree the best chance to survive. Alas! About three inches down the root broke!

I held a two-foot high baby tree with a three-inch root. I was positive it was doomed.

With little hope but nothing to lose, we dug a hole, planted the little tree, watered it and wished it well. Look at it now!

Botanymiracle oakKappel

We call it our Miracle Oak.


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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Dumb Bunny

By Vicki E. Jones

The year was 1961, and I was 14. I was attending a counselor-in-training session at Camp JCA in the San Bernardino Mountains, Barton Flats, Seven Oaks, California – up above the Big Bear area.

I had attended camp JCA every summer for a two-week session of the overnight camp since I was seven years old, having been allowed to attend a year younger than usual because my older sister was attending the camp too.

Our counselor-in-training group consisted of boys and girls with the girls housed on the girls’ side of the camp’s sleeping quarters in a very large tent on a wood platform. Inside the tent were five or six bunk beds and Elaine, our counselor and instructor, slept on the lower level of one of the bunks.

There was plenty of empty floor space between the bunks. A close friend of mine, Gail, was in my group.

One morning after breakfast, we went back to our tent and it began to rain hard. Our planned outdoor activity was delayed so Elaine decided to teach us a game inside the tent called “dumb bunny” to keep us busy.

Elaine had all of us get down on the wood floor on our hands and knees and crouch down with our heads down and hands over our heads, similar to the position we would get into as young children at school doing “drop drills” or bomb drills. She had us close our eyes and listen. Then she began to talk.

Her story started with “Once there was a dumb bunny, a very dumb bunny” and went on and on about how the other bunnies would run and play while the dumb bunny just sat there on all fours with its head down and eyes closed.

She talked about all the other wonderful things the other bunnies were doing while the dumb bunny didn’t move. She rambled on and on and pretty soon about 15 minutes had gone by.

A few of us got up, including Gail and me, and Elaine winked, put a finger to her lips for us to say nothing and signaled for us to sit on the beds. She kept on talking, making up fanciful situations about the fun the other bunnies were having while the dumb bunny just sat there with its eyes closed.

By this time we realized she was improvising and there was no set script. And she kept on talking until, after another 10 or 12 minutes, everyone had gotten up except one girl.

She then said, “And while the other bunnies were eating and playing and having fun, the dumb bunny just stayed there crouched with its eyes closed.”

At that point we all started laughing and the one girl still on the wood floor looked up and realized what “dumb bunny” was all about and that she had been had and was the dumb bunny for not getting up.

I never did become a camp counselor at JCA and neither did Gail but if I ever had, you can bet that on a rainy day I would have taught the game dumb bunny to my group of campers.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Chronicling a Life

By Arlene Corwin of Arlene Corwin Poetry

We do it, small historians
We, saving, storing, organizing,
Photographing with our tiny cameras,
Publishing seflseflselfself,
World background, we the bearers
Of the stories,
Leaving for the after-others,
Those to come, to prize.
Always products of our time,
Valid or invalid, we inform,
A suture to the future.
Scrap ambition, fame, esteem.
We chronicle. We document. We’re history.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Number Please

By Dani Ferguson Phillips of The Cataract Club

I've been thinking a lot about mattresses lately. I have no idea why since I absolutely love our bed and have no intention of purchasing another one but there are so many to choose from.

You can have a Sleep Number bed which will give you one more identifying marker. Maybe I could finally be a 10!

I once looked at one of those Tempur-pedic mattresses - you know, the one you lay down on and when you get up there is a complete body print left behind. It reminded too much of a chalk outline in a crime scene. Besides, my body impression is the last thing I want imprinted on my brain at the start of my day.

Another bed I’d like to investigate is the adjustable bed. There is nothing like the feeling of being in a hospital while in the comfort of your own home. And the options are unlimited. Adjust the head of the bed, no more reflux. Raise the foot and reduce leg swelling. Raise both at the same time and you’ll need adjusting.

One of our local furniture stores advertises the fact that they actually have a chiropractor on staff to assist you in choosing the right mattress. They boast having “An on-staff doctor of chiropractic and trained sleep advocates who know exactly what mattress is right for you before you even lay down on it.”

Sleep advocates? That sounds impressive. I wonder what kind of training is required for that job.

I like the commercial where the wife is awakened by her husband’s snoring so she just grabs the remote and raises his side of the bed. He stops and she goes back to sleep with a smile.

What if you added a little power to the bed. If your husband made you mad you could just wait until he fell asleep and then hit the remote and catapult him across the room. As long as you didn’t giggle, he’d never know what hit him.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Monday, 27 July 2015

Drones Down on the Farm - Perspectives

By Dan Gogerty who blogs at Cast

You might not have your own personal drone yet but the hype is real and here in farm country they’re buzzing in faster than mosquitoes at a picnic. Farmers will use them to monitor crops, apply chemicals, tend livestock and do myriad tasks involved with the precision agriculture wave.

That sounds good; drones might make farming more productive, sustainable, and safe. Anyway, I’ve always been into science fiction - these toys seem cool in a Buck Rogers way.

On the other hand, I’m glad they weren’t around when we were kids on the farm. My siblings, cousins and I spent days playing in pasture creeks, making hideouts in barn haylofts and climbing trees in the groves. A parental nanny drone would have hovered as we pushed each other into muddy back waters, as we used BB guns to shoot old bottles at the junk pile, as we tried to light corn-silk cigarettes behind the shed.

No doubt some company already has a “Big Brother Drone” for sale.

Some farmers might also have second thoughts about the coming swarm of drones. Neighbors and regulators will be able to swoop in and check on crops and livestock. Companies will gather data used for advertising and promotion. And some folks just want to maintain a bit of privacy in this high-tech age.

A California man has been charged with downing his neighbor’s drone with a blast from his 12-gauge shotgun. The Hatfields and McCoys might be able to use drones in future feuds.

Speaking of privacy, farm field work used to have a tranquil Zen quality to it - the open spaces, the vast horizon, a connection with nature. And when another type of nature called, the farmer could hop off the tractor and stand behind a huge tire to “water the crops.” Now you’d have to worry about who’s watching from above - a precision ag drone? a neighbor’s unmanned vehicle? the NSA.

The term “digital streaming” takes on a whole new meaning.

Enough with the Luddite thoughts. Drones will be helpful, fun, expensive, controversial - all the contradictions most new tech involves. I’m curious - and basically optimistic - about their impact.

But when I think of my boyhood farm from a drone’s eye view, I don’t envision digital cameras and hours of live video. I see photographs taken by my Uncle Pat in the 1950s. He was an expert photographer and he hitched a ride with a farmer who owned a Cessna so he could fly over our land and get aerial shots.

Pat’s eye view is frozen in time: I see a picture of cattle eating in feedlots, crops swaying in the breeze, creeks flowing through pastures, and groves of trees long since gone.

I see a five-acre section of virgin prairie at the back of the farm - lonely, untouched and beautiful. I see farmers tending livestock, stacking hay bales and driving cab-less tractors. I see sunburned kids running down the lane with the dog and heading out to see what adventures a farm could hold on a hot summer day.

Drones are immediate, precise and filled with digital data. Pat’s photos are old, static and filled with analog abstractions. Drones are the future but it’s still fun to take flight over the farm with a throw-back set of nostalgia lenses on.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Friday, 24 July 2015

Don’t Fix a Thing If It Ain’t Broke

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

Why change a product that’s a winner?
Who needs Oreos to be thinner?
Why fix a thing that isn’t broken?
They’ll find out, when the public’s spoken.

Consider New Coke, trumpeted to be
The best winner for the company;
New Coke was sent to the Jurassic,
But we’re still drinking Coke that’s classic.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Thursday, 23 July 2015

Little Pitchers Do Have Big Ears

By Carl Hansen

My wife and I find that watching Jeopardy is not only educational but also capable of sparking memories that go way back in our life together. Both of these occurred for us not long ago when one of the questions was to name the longest running soap opera still on national television in 2015.

The answer - the show that opens with these words: “Like sands through the hourglass...” The answer, of course, is Days of Our Lives..

Since 1965, “Days” has come into living rooms dating back to a time when about all that was available on TV during the day were shows like it such as The Guiding Light, As the World Turns, Search for Tomorrow and General Hospital.

The memory of those TV soaps prompted a memory my wife had of watching some of these shows in the afternoon. As a stay-at-home wife when I was pastor of a small congregation in Camden, New Jersey, she often tackled her mountain of ironing when these shows were on while our first child was quietly playing nearby.

There was no clue that the little one was paying any attention to what was going on in those shows; no apparent reaction to the way some of the characters jumped in and out of relationships as casually as some people change wardrobes.

But one day our daughter gave proof to the adage about big ears on little pitchers when she asked: “Mommy, how do you know daddy is my real daddy?”

After assurance was given that I really was her daddy, the television was turned off - and from that day on, the decision was made that if programs such as Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood or Captain Kangaroo were not available, it might be best for the television set to remain silent and dark when she was in the room.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Pack Rats

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

Both my wife Bev and I hate to throw anything away. As a result, in 30 years the basement, garage and attic have accumulated a ton of relics in which only the Smithsonian Institution or the local junkyard might have an interest.

Recently, we made the tough decision to get rid of at least some of the junk. Of course, this was like two drug addicts telling each other to go cold turkey.

We started by going through the various items scattered around the basement. “It would be a shame to throw out these pants; they don’t have any rips and they’re not in the least bit faded,” I pleaded to my better half.

“Maybe you’re right,” Bev replied. “Perhaps bell bottoms will come into style again and maybe you’ll lose 30 pounds so you can wear them.”

A few minutes later, Bev spotted an aged exercise machine that was now covered with dust and cobwebs. “Maybe we should keep this; both of us could use a little exercise,” she reasoned.

“As I remember, dear,” I explained, “we used that machine for two weeks before chucking it into the basement. It was about as exciting as watching the grass grow.”

After several hours of gently encouraging each other, we had accumulated a sizable pile of items to price for the upcoming community garage sale. Bev commented: “Here’s the lamp that Aunt Bertha gave us about 25 years ago. It doesn’t work anymore but it’s still pretty. How about 25 bucks for it?”

“It‘s the most hideous lamp I‘ve ever seen!” I responded. “It’s almost as ugly as Aunt Bertha herself. Maybe some shopper will take it if we pay her or him $25.”

“Well, it’s better than that moldy sofa that your Uncle Bert gave us about 20 years ago. The last time I sat on that thing my pants got stuck on a spring,” Bev retaliated. “And your Uncle Bert isn’t exactly handsome. Dr. Frankenstein has made better-looking guys out of spare parts.”

Refusing to escalate the war of words, I responded: “Maybe we could bundle the lamp and the sofa for 25 dollars.”

Several folks showed up for the sale but no one wanted to pay the listed prices. “I’ll give you a dollar for the lamp,” stated one elderly lady.

“You won’t find a more beautiful lamp than this one,” Bev countered. “How about five dollars?”

“Does it work?” the lady inquired.

“No,” Bev honestly answered, “but I’m sure it could easily be repaired.”

“Then I’ll give you a quarter for it.”

My old bell bottoms were listed for three dollars; a retired auto mechanic offered me 50 cents: “I can cut them into cleaning rags,” he said.

I couldn’t let that happen to such a classic line of clothing, so I hid the pants behind the exercise machine.

While I stayed to supervise, Bev decided to visit the other homes in the neighborhood where sales were taking place. About a half hour later she returned, entering the backdoor of the house before coming down to the garage. Then I took a little time to see what the neighbors had for sale.

We were happy that a few items had been sold. In fact, we made over $25 that day. Unfortunately, we spent more than $30.

At other houses Bev bought a lamp, a toaster, a picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware, some plastic plates and a garden hose. I purchased a train set, an old board game, a radio, a 1956 calendar, a rusty flashlight and a typewriter.

Altogether, we ended up with five more pieces of junk than we had before the sale began. Our goal at next year’s sale is to break even.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Marathon

By Henry Lowenstern

It has taken many weeks
to reach agreement with the Greeks
on saving their economy
while maintaining their autonomy,
but, the agreement already is spr​i​ng​ing ​leaks.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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